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Tuesday 15th March – 11th meeting of 2016.

Today we met at Cannon Street and planned to visit Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas Hospital and then lunch by way of a special treat. The trains were a little delayed so we met a little later than usual. Eight of us today as one of our ladies unfortunately was ill.

We went down to the river to walk to St Thomas Hospital. There is an enormous amount of building work going on in this area making it quite difficult for pedestrians and traffic alike to get around and making the whole area more busy and noisier than normal. The walk along the Embankment was lovely. A nice bright morning and showing London at its best!

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We went into St Thomas Hospital for a coffee. As you enter the main hospital building it is like a small city with Marks and Spencers, WH Smith, a clothes shop and cafes. We went to Toms and had our drinks with a superb view as it overlooked the river and Houses of Parliament.

From here we went to The Florence Nightingale Museum but as we had booked for lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant we decided that there was not enough time to view the exhibition. We took a slow walk to the restaurant which is in the basement of South Bank House which in turn is all part of the old Grade 11 listed building of the Doulton factory on the corner of Lambeth High Street and Black Prince Road.

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This restaurant is a fascinating place. It is literally in the basement with pipes and all manner of the boiler room equipment in situ. It is decorated in true Italian style, white walls with lots of photos, prints and all things Italian! We got seated and straight away ordered some wine and as it was one of our ladies birthday and raised our glasses to her and sang ‘Happy Birthday to you’. All the staff here are Italian and have the flare of Italy! We were given the menus and shown plates with all the specials on, each of which looked very appetising. Our orders were taken by one of the owners who was charming. It was very busy and had such a happy atmosphere. Our meals arrived very quickly and we all throughly enjoyed them.

After a while the waiter appeared ringing a hand bell and requesting that our birthday girl joined him in the middle of the restaurant and then a big cake arrived (must add that it looked really good but was made of cardboard!) with a burning candle and the whole restaurant sang ‘Happy Birthday’. How lucky was she to have it sung twice in an hour! We then ordered coffees and relaxed! Cappuccino arrived and the waiter tripped and the cup toppled from the saucer – needless to say it was a trick – but how real it looked and we gave a loud scream much to the waiter and customers delight!

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Some of our ladies had visited the restaurant some time ago but for us first timers it was a great pleasure!  We were sad to hear from one of the waiters that they will be closing in August as the building has been sold and the new owners will not renew the contract.

We took a walk back to Waterloo station, some taking the river path and some the road side but we all arrived and met up at the station for our trains home after a fabulous day in the capital!